Arguably the most important stretch for any team in the playoff picture is the few weeks leading up to the trade deadline. It’s those few weeks that often determine whether a team will buy or whether they’re destined to be sellers. It’s those few weeks where crucial points can either be made up or dropped, never to be recovered. And it’s those few weeks when teams can either fall completely apart or become galvanized before making that all-important push into the post-season.
So, suffice to say that given we’re three weeks out from the deadline, there could not have possibly been a worse moment for the Edmonton Oilers to learn that they’ll be without Connor McDavid, the most game-changing offensive force in the entire NHL, for that very stretch.
Speaking to media Tuesday afternoon, Oilers GM Ken Holland announced that McDavid, who suffered a lower-body injury in Saturday’s victory over the Nashville Predators, will miss anywhere from two to three weeks with a quad ailment. Holland added that the injury, which is unrelated to the knee injury McDavid suffered at the end of last season, was revealed by an MRI, and that the hope within the Oilers’ organization is that the captain’s timeline for recovery can actually be a touch faster than the initial prognosis.
Without question, this is a potentially season-altering injury with which the Oilers will have to contend, and the timeline is worrisome, to say the least. On the low end, McDavid will miss anywhere from seven to eight games if he’s out of action exactly two weeks from Tuesday’s announcement. If it’s three weeks, the number stretches to the dozen-game mark. McDavid could miss the equivalent of about 15 percent of the campaign. And that his time on the sideline is coming with the trade freeze in the offing – Holland said “yes and no” when asked if McDavid’s injury impacts deadline plans, with the win-loss record the true deciding factor – means Edmonton’s pre- and possibly post-deadline future will be determined in the absence of their most important player.